Deer and Doe Luzerne Trench

Hello again ladies and gents! Hope you’re all enjoying #sewphotohop and fingers crossed you’ve been following my posts throughout September. I’m currently struggling to find time to sew for myself, which is killing me. I have a free afternoon on Sunday and some yummy fabric from So Sew English, so wish me luck!! How about starting the evening with a project review?

Almond rock, Deer and Doe, fabworks, Luzerne trench, Mac, coat making

Meet my Luzerne trench coat. Do you ever really truly hate a project but keep going?? This is rare for me. I normally stuff UFOs out of sight but I think because I didn’t want to get this jacket too rumpled (hahah this sentence will be extra ironic as you read on) it always stayed in my eye line. I’ve been dipping into it every few months to get it finished. Given that I started this make in May, LAST YEAR, I’m amazed it’s finally done.

Almond rock, Deer and Doe, fabworks, Luzerne trench, Mac, coat making

So why do I hate it? Let’s get started. The fit of this jacket was really hard to work out for my lifestyle. The amount of ease needed for wearing the trench with a jumper leaves it baggy without one underneath… and I like cardigans which create a hollow at the centre front and lumpy areas at the bust. Having the bust look especially rumpled really grates because I love a great fit in my torso. This is my own fault for trying to sew a relaxed coat when I’m not that kind of dresser. I like fitted clothes so what made me think I’d like a loose fit mac?!

Almond rock, Deer and Doe, fabworks, Luzerne trench, Mac, coat making

The shape of the collar is also infuriating. It has this weird step that looks out of place to my eye. Its not a stand collar and it’s not a notch collar! What are you!?! Again this is my own issue, you may love this touch. Maybe you never even noticed… it looks so nice on other people’s versions.

Almond rock, Deer and Doe, fabworks, Luzerne trench, Mac, coat making

Don’t get me wrong… There are a lot of great details. Those lovely pocket edges, the button tabs, curved back yoke, and well fitting sleeves but why oh why didn’t I ignore the pattern and make a longer tie belt!?

Almond rock, Deer and Doe, fabworks, Luzerne trench, Mac, coat making

I know it’s a nice make but all I see is the creases and fit issues. I’m going to try and wear it more this Autumn with extra layers underneath to see if we can get on.

Almond rock, Deer and Doe, fabworks, Luzerne trench, Mac, coat making

I used a lovely magenta organic twill from Fabworks which comes in a lot of colours. It’s the perfect weight but has a little bit of stretch which didn’t help my ease issues. And I made metres and metres of bias binding from a scrap piece of Wiltshire Liberty tana lawn. Binding everything takes a loooong time but creates a fun inside.

Almond rock, Deer and Doe, fabworks, Luzerne trench, Mac, coat making

The pdf pattern arrives in multiple sizes and with separate English instructions – it in fact goes up to a phenomenal plus size range in PDF so bravo to the team. They’re fairly detailed but you may need extra help if you’ve never tried bound buttonholes or sewn a collar before. I made a size 38 without a toile because that is my size in D&D patterns but would definitely size down in future. If you can, buy the paper pattern for this one as it’s a LOT of pages to stick together.

Okay I’ve waffled on enough. For other gorgeous versions from the sewing community check out Sleepless into Bavaria who has made not one but TWO spotty macs, Allie J who clearly got her sizing just right and Stay Junique in her sassy red version.

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Happy swans Vogue 1102

Hello everyone! This post is going up while I’m away in France. I thought a little blogging would keep me distracted in the run up to the wedding so I scheduled a few posts. I’m sure the wedding was [insert a phrase here]. Hehe just kidding. I won’t try and guess but I’m hoping it was sunny and merry and full of dancing.

almond rock vogue 1102 v1102 art gallery fabrics canvas dress

This Art Gallery Fabrics organic canvas print was a stash points splurge from Village Haberdashery two years ago. Yes I’m afraid this dress has been finished quite a while. The print is quite large but very fun and the canvas is just on the cusp of being unmanageable for dressmaking with its weight and lack of drape. It’s from the Hello Ollie collection and is called Swanlings Bevy in colour “Nightfall”. There’s still some left here!

almond rock vogue 1102 v1102 art gallery fabrics canvas dress

This is Vogue 1102. You thought I was done with this pattern? Well THINK AGAIN! I needed to find a style that would work with the canvas and the structured bodice was a great fit. The skirt is perhaps a little bulky but it flares out in a really pleasing way while being worn that I don’t care if it’s unflattering from another person’s viewpoint.

almond rock vogue 1102 v1102 art gallery fabrics canvas dress

As you may remember I drafted a higher back bodice and this let’s me wear a bra (essential) but still keeps that glorious exposure at the back. That sounds a bit ruder than I intended doesn’t it! I think the finish at the top of the zipper is so neat given the bulky canvas used. Trimming the top of the zipper is key and not being afraid to trim a lot of the tape. I also lengthened the empire line so it sits at the waist which works better with the gathered skirt. I think this is my last un-blogged version of this dress now! Or should I say… for now!

almond rock vogue 1102 v1102 art gallery fabrics canvas dress

I originally photographed this dress on the garden while I had my glorious perm. Look how happy I look even in this screen preview. Hair of my dreams!! Then when the perm was ruined, I fell out of love with the photos… So sad. Renata came to my rescue with a few snaps in the studio though.

almond rock vogue 1102 v1102 art gallery fabrics canvas dress

Don’t worry about this being a scheduled post, I’d still love to hear your comments on the post or over on social media. I honestly don’t mind if people read the post here and go over to Instagram to send me a message because the conversation is still going, just in a different location! Chat to you soon xx

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Swish factor – my wedding dress skirt

Time to talk skirts! This is the last construction based post for the dress in sure you’re relieved to hear but if you’ve ever been curious about putting a zipper in a sheer skirt I’m sharing how I did it.

Almond rock floral wedding dress handmade bridal sewing organza Dior couture

The skirt is a 3/4 circle that I drafted on Swedish tracing paper using an online tutorial. Each layer is constructed individually. The base is silk satin, then rose print, then organza. There’s also a satin lining layer facing inwards in liquid satin. All are constructed with tiny French seams. I agonized over this because the rose organza bias seams were hard work. No matter how carefully I sewed them or what tricks I tried they fought laying flat.

Almond rock floral wedding dress handmade bridal sewing organza Dior couture

I made two skirts and picked the least wobbly, managed to steam them pretty straight and accepted the top layer would cover them better and the petticoat would support the seams. I think it’s due to the design being printed on top of the fabric because the floral areas are a lot stiffer than the sheer area so the stretch isn’t even. Not all fabrics behave the way you want them to. Safe to say the silk layers sewed beautifully.

Almond rock floral wedding dress handmade bridal sewing organza Dior couture

I didn’t want all the layers joined at the centre back of the skirt so each layer is French seamed up to the zipper opening and then clipped at an angle to sit flat. Then I could turn all the layers under together for my lapped zipper. I know the above photo doesn’t look like anything but that was the point!! The clipping (at the rose area) is near invisible. The clipping at an angle helps prevent fraying and the organza softens everything making it look hazy underneath.

Almond rock floral wedding dress handmade bridal sewing organza Dior couture

Hemming the layers was awful. Utterly awful! The different layers dropped in different ways and I had to decide if I would try and level them evenly or stagger them. I wore my full outfit and my bridal seamstress expert/bridesmaid Charly came round and pinned all the layers to the same height. I then trimmed and did rolled hems on my overlocker all to the same length.

Almond rock floral wedding dress handmade bridal sewing organza Dior couture

The problem with circle skirts though is that as they swish they constantly look slightly uneven. Multiple floaty layers make this more noticeable which is frustrating when you know it definitely IS even! But all you need to do is re-swish your skirt and things look better. My rolled hem settings took quite a while to work out as they needed to change a bit for each layer. They look identical above but the width and tension needed tiny tweaks. It’s very easy to get too close to the edge on a sheer fabric and then the rolled hem just pulls off so speed is the enemy. In hindsight I wish I’d levelled the layers off slightly staggered. It would have been hell to do but looked a bit better.

Almond rock floral wedding dress handmade bridal sewing organza Dior couture

You might ask if the lining was necessary when I had a crinoline petticoat on underneath. Well I thought in case I took the petticoat off for the evening (which I did) or if I wear it again (which I might) it would be nice against my legs.

Almond rock floral wedding dress handmade bridal sewing organza Dior couture

It was staggering 35 degrees on my wedding day so I decided to pop back to my room half way through the evening do. Run around in my underwear in the air conditioning and then pop the dress back on without the petticoat. Here’s me “rehydrating” below.

Almond rock floral wedding dress handmade bridal sewing organza Dior couture

We’re on the home straight with wedding dress posts now. I hope you’re still finding them interesting!

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Dior wannabe – my wedding dress bodice

The thing I’m most proud of on my wedding dress is how my beginner attempts at draping went. The whole bodice fit and looked exactly how I wanted.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing

I used an ivory satin base, rose print organza in between, and soft organza with subtle twinkle on top. With luxury interfacing and a boned muslin layer for support the bodice took the longest time to complete.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing

I started by mounting the rose print on top of each silk that was interfaced with my luxury weft interfacing from Alison Smith’s bridal sewing course. I agonized over the rose placement but in reality I didn’t need to bother as it’s just fuzzy pink underneath the finished bodice.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing

I assembled all the seams, clipped and notched then catch stitched the allowances. I then padded my mannequin and pinned my bodice up.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing

To drape the bodice I tried a few different size pleats (see below) but decided 1″ overlapping pleats pointed upwards looked best. Bestie, bridesmaid and bridal seamstress Charly advise positioning a big piece of fabric with the crosswise grain straight across the bodice, keep it pinned to my mannequin body, and then create the pleats.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing

Starting with the left hand side I had to hand stitch the under bust seam line and then trim the excess fabric down to a hideable length. This was turned under and stitched in place. I used a strand of yarn to remind me of the best curve for my right hand side seam line.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing

Draping the right side was much harder. I had to create a neat fold that started at the centre front point and then swooped aggressively to cover the seam line. I was too scared to mark the seam line on the fabric in case it didn’t come out so just put one tiny pink dot in fabric pencil at the centre point of the V. The organza was very resistant to draping into such a strong curve and it took 5 or 6 attempts. Then I had to match the second pleats on each side so they were the same height at the princess seam point but it still had to swoop under the bust pleasingly.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing

On both sides the most difficult areas were just under the bust point where a dart would easily absorb the curve. The organza was very difficult to position and I must have gone over the left facing side 15 times or more. Watch my upcoming video to see why. Eventually I found a way to absorb the excess and keep the pleats the same width. Lots of twisting the organza about and draping the full curve rather than trying to drape it in small sections.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing

The pleats start to overlap at the side seam, but I wanted them to be hidden neatly underneath each other – so the number of pleats at the side seams were even ready to match at the centre back. The pleats needed to be parallel across the waist to be flattering, but those last two pleats curve off into the seam allowance at the back away from the CB seam.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing

The other tricky aspect was pinning everything in place without catching the bra or padding on the mannequin below. And not pulling the organza too taught, distorting the rows above or fabric below.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing

To secure the pleats I decided to stitch at the princess seams and side seams then scattered stitches all over the bodice. I had to stitch in two ways; First tiny tiny tiny prick stitches at the top edge of the pleat (at the seam point), so tiny they weren’t really visible. Then prick stitches at the bottom edge of the pleat, inside the fold (for the stitches scattered around the bodice). There were a few places the stitches showed and undoing them was panic inducing. I stitched each seam in one go but for the scattered stitches these were done individually and knotted off/snipped before starting again in another place.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing

The muslin inner bodice was cut slightly smaller that the outer because all the organza made the bodice very firm and the muslin still had a little stretch. My boning was cut from an old h&m dress. The one I wore to charly’s wedding in fact. It’s as thin as lingerie boning (about 4mm wide, 2mm thick), clear and very smooth. It’s bendy but was already in a curve. I don’t know if it was set into shape during construction or if years of being in the dress moulded them into their shape but they fit like a dream.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing

Most advice for bridal sewing is to not place boning in the princess seams. It creates false shape, doesn’t add support over the bust and prevents adjustments down the line. BUT I ignored this because 1. As the bones were perfectly shaped to match my body they created a great shape, 2. I don’t need the bones to hold my bust up as I’m small chested and have a good bra, and 3. I hoped not to have to make adjustments. I made channels out of more muslin and stitched them inside with a little bit of wiggle room above and below which is very important for you to bend or move about. The muslin was the placed RS to the wrong side of the bodice and basted all around.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing

Aligning the pleats at the centre back was eyes down and hope for the best. The lapped zipper could have ruined everything. Everything was basted around the outer edges then the excess trimmed down. One wiggled out of place in the end but I don’t really care.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing

The last bodice stage was to install a lining made of duchesse silk satin. Seam allowance was clipped to help the sweetheart bodice shape, turn through neatly and understitched, then handstitched into place. And I decided to add rubber trimmed elastic to help the dress hug my body at the upper edge. A less attractive finish but worthwhile for that sense of security if you’re an enthusiastic dancer like me.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing

Next up! A look at the skirt. I promise it won’t be as long as this post. I’ll also sharing sewing tips, costings and more before the end of the month. Any queries please do share them!

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My wedding dress – the test

I thought I’d share a quick peek of my test dress that shows how different my finished dress turned out.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing

I ordered the yellow colourway of the rose organza specifically for the test (So I’d get the effect but wouldn’t be too precious about the fabric… we’ll touch on prices in another blog post), plus used white duchesse satin underneath and white chiffon on top. On this test the under bodice is Simplicity 1606 and the skirt is a full circle I drafted myself. The rose was mounted onto the satin then the front and back princess seams of the bodices were constructed. Each skirt was assembled at the side seams but the layers were kept separate to allow swish.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing

Having never really tried draping before I first tried working flat, laying the bodice on my worktop. On the front I placed the pleats turned upwards, about 3/4″ wide and quite spread apart. On the back the pleats faced downwards. I then joined the side seams and attached to all three of the skirts.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing

It was a really revealing test. The white satin and chiffon was too bright and the pleating made me look very flat chested. The upwards pleats were definitely more flattering but they needed more curves and to be placed closer together. The full circle skirt was great for twirling but I thought it should sit flatter on my tummy. And you could barely see the print so I needed to find something more sheer to go on top. I have a little of the yellow rose organza left so it’ll be lovely to make something from in the future. (Though it’s not as nice as the pink).

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing

I resolved to sit and think through the construction order more carefully and figure out if I could drape the bodice in one go rather than joining the side seams. Plus I had to work out how to install a zip into three layers of fabric!

In my next meaty post I’ll share the major part of the construction plus some videos of me making the dress.

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